Now, the Wizards will look to salvage a split of their home-and-home series with the Charlotte Bobcats as the teams meet Wednesday in Washington.
Butler injured his hand when he hit it on the backboard while trying to block a shot in Sunday’s 121-107 win at Milwaukee, and an MRI on Monday revealed a broken bone below his right index finger. Unless the Wizards advance deep into the playoffs, Butler—who was averaging career highs in points (19.1), rebounds (7.4) and assists (3.7)—will not play again this season.
The Wizards (39-34) clearly seemed to be missing Butler in Tuesday’s 122-102 loss at Charlotte on Tuesday. They allowed Gerald Wallace to pick up 34 points and 14 rebounds as the Bobcats (29-46) won for the third time in four games.
“We miss Caron a lot. He’s a guy that can guard guys like Gerald Wallace,” Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson said. “He’s an All-Star. But some of the guys on this team will have to step up and become that nasty guy.”
The Wizards fell into second place in the Southeast Division, one-half game behind Miami. They are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, but have lost five of their last seven.
“They seemed like they were the team fighting for playoff position and we were the team that was going home in the next nine or 10 days,” said forward Antawn Jamison, who had 11 rebounds, but just six points.
Washington’s Gilbert Arenas had 33 points for his NBA-best 35th game with at least 30. Etan Thomas, starting at center for the second straight game ahead of Brendan Haywood, added a season-high 17 and 14 rebounds.
However, Jarvis Hayes, who took Butler’s place in the starting lineup, managed only two points and five rebounds, going 1-for-6 from the field.
“They took it to us. We never had an answer for Wallace,” said Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, who said Hayes would likely stay in the starting lineup Wednesday. “Even when we double teamed, guys got open on the perimeter.”
Meanwhile, the Bobcats—who are on the verge of their first 30-win season since entering the league in 2004—didn’t play like the fourth-place team in the Southeast that is 11 1/2 games behind Miami.
“All around on the offensive end I think that’s as good a game as we’ve had, as far as sharing the ball, running the pick-and-roll, the bigs running hard and the guys getting open,” Wallace said.
Walter Herrmann, the Eastern Conference’s Rookie of the Month in March. added 21 points for his third straight 20-point performance. The Argentine forward has averaged 16.9 points in his last 11 games after averaging just 4.0 points in his first 30.
Guard Derek Anderson sat out his second straight game and seventh in the last eight with continued pain in his right knee, but said he’ll return Friday.